Top 10 Movie Rain Scenes

by Eric Melin on June 30, 2009

in Top 10s

This list comes to us from Sean O’Connell, a New York City-based writer who also contributed a Top 10 Movie Brothers list some time back. If you have a Top 10 you’d like to contribute, email me at eric@scene-stealers.com. Here’s Sean:

Since we are in the thick of the summer movie season you would think that gorgeous summer weather would follow. That is not the case here in New York City. Our summer has been held hostage by constant rain. It has rained 21 out of 25 days here in the month of June alone. The sun has been gone for so long now that the Cullen family from “Twilight” could have taken a summer vacation here with no worries. That is how bad it is. So while I have been trapped inside, it got me thinking of great rain scenes from movies. Here is my top ten rain scenes of all time. Hope you enjoy it and I hope it stops raining here.

day after tomorrow water10. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

This may not be the greatest movie ever made, but the NYC rain scenes have been pretty dead-on as of late. I am constantly looking over my shoulder as I walk up 7th Avenue for a giant wall of water to come crashing down on me. As far as the movie goes, this was the one scene that was the most enjoyable. The rude New Yorkers meet their demise and the smart school kids live. The special effects were great and who doesn’t want to see an oil tanker float up 5th Avenue? Once the rain stops, so does the movie unfortunately. It gets caught up in some environmental message while the new Ice Age ascends rapidly (didn’t the first one take over a century to happen, not a day?), Jake Gyllenhaal tries to remind us why we need to pay attention in science class, and Dennis Quaid walks from Washington D.C. on snow shoes that look like tennis rackets to find his son he has lost touch with.

return of the living dead rain9. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

In this Dan O’Bannon classic, rain plays a prominent role not once but twice. After two bumbling warehouse workers (portrayed by James Karen and Thom Mathews) accidentally set free a poisonous gas from a secret lost army canister, all hell breaks loose. This gas, when released, causes the dead to rise. So when a dead medical cadaver and the half dogs for veterinary school come to life, they are forced to burn them in an incinerator. This just causes all the poisonous gas to be released into the atmosphere, which causes an awesome acid rain storm. The result is that all the bodies in the neighboring cemetery come to life and now need to eat brains to make the pain go away. In the end, our heroes contact the army only to get blown up by a nuclear missile. This again causes the gas to go into the atmosphere and now the rainstorms are happening all over the country. So any rain that can bring about zombies has to make the list.

back to the future part ii 19898. Back to the Future Part II (1989)

This rain scene doesn’t happen until the end but has one of the greatest time travel twists ever. Marty and Doc (Michael J. Fox & Christopher Lloyd) have once again successfully completed their mission, avoided destroying the space-time continuum and were getting ready to leave 1955 for 1985. Just then, the famous Hill Valley rainstorm (the one that destroyed the clock tower) spreads to Hilldale. Doc is already in the Delorean and Marty is on the ground down below. Lightning strikes the Delorean and it seems that Doc has been incinerated. Then a torrential down pour happens, and a strange man in an overcoat appears. Turns out he is from Western Union and was told by Doc (who is now in the Old West) to be there at that precise moment to deliver a letter that tells Marty how to get home. I always wondered: If the letter is about 70 years old, why didn’t the rain destroy it right there? Anyway, watching Marty scream, “The Doc is Alive, he is in the Old West, but he’s alive!” in the pouring rain still makes me smile.

rocky horror picture show 19757. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

OK, any movie where the audience re-enacts the rain scene in the theater by shooting water guns in the air and holding newspapers over their heads to shield them from drops of water has to be on the list. The rainstorm in the movie causes couple Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) to get a flat tire. Their search for a phone and escape from the downpour leads them to the Frank-N-Furter Castle, home of transvestite Tim Curry. Since the rain got Brad and Janet’s clothes soaked they are forced to spend a bulk of the movie in their underwear.

spider-man rain kiss6. Spider-Man (2002)

I really deliberated on this one for a long time, mainly because I always got mad that this was the one scene from this great movie that gets shown most of the time. I am, of course, talking about the famous upside-down kiss, but since it became an iconic part of the movie, I felt forced to put it on the list. We all know what happens: Thugs are attacking Mary Jane, Spidey saves the day, and gets a kiss for his reward. This all happens as Mother Nature is unleashing a heavy rainstorm. The one good thing that came from this scene was Kristen Dunst’s wet T-shirt look that kept every teenage boy happy that summer.

unforgiven rain 19925. Unforgiven (1992)

Rain is prominent throughout Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning Western. It is raining in the opening scene where Little Bill (Gene Hackman) tries to settle a dispute between the owner of the whorehouse saloon and the two cowboys responsible for the attack on a prostitute. It is raining while Little Bill is trying to build his house–he is not a very good carpenter because the roof is constantly leaking. The most important rain scene, however, is saved for last. The rain clouds come rolling in just as William Munny (Eastwood) finds out (SPOLIER ALERT!) his best friend Ned (Morgan Freeman) was killed by Little Bill. Munny, a recovering alcoholic, is now about to become the monster he once was–the man who killed women, children and everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. The transformation is complete as he rides into town in the rain and you see the empty bottle of whiskey thrown into a puddle. Munny enters the saloon and takes care of business in a great shoot-out, then rides out of town in the rain.

helm's deep rain two towers loard of rings4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The battle for Helm’s Deep during the second of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was the best combat scene from the entire thing. The whole amazing war happened while sheets of rain fell from the sky. You would think a fight scene would be hard to follow during a rain sequence, but not here. Everything is well choreographed and the action is top-notch.

forrest gump war3. Forrest Gump (1994)

Everyone always remembers that “life is like a box of chocolates,” but I bet you everyone also left the theater after seeing this remembering the different types of rainstorms there are. When Forrest (Tom Hanks) is fighting in Vietnam, he narrates, “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain … and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. And then one day it just stopped.” That is what we are going through here in NYC. I hope it stops suddenly just like it did in the movie.

shawshank baptism rain2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This rain scene is one of my all time favorite movie scenes. Who can forget Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) raising his outstretched arms triumphantly in the air after escaping from Shawshank Prison through a sewage tunnel? The rain beats down on his face as he smiles for the first time in a long time as a free man. The image of a free Andy will always stay burned in my brain and every time I watch this scene it still sends chills up my spine. Nothing beats Red’s (Morgan Freeman) narration as the scene is unfolding: “Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards … that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.” This arguably would be the greatest rain scene in movie history if it were not for number one.

singin' in the rain kelly1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Come on, you saw this coming. It even has the word rain in the title. Who can forget Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) incredible dance number in the rain? Don just says goodnight to Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) after a great evening. He is so happy at the turn of events that he feels he must sing about it while it is raining. He swings on lampposts, jumps in puddles, and twirls an umbrella the whole time. He never seems to mind that he is soaking wet. Some trivia tidbits about the scene, Kelly had a 103-degree fever the day of filming the scene. Co-director Stanley Donen (Kelly was the other co-director) wanted to send him home, but Kelly refused. So massive preparations were taken so that it could be filmed in one take, and it was. The most famous rain scene in movie history was done in just one take and Kelly also improvised most of his dance moves. Also, the rain consisted of a mixture of milk and water so it would show up better on film. This mixture caused Gene Kelly’s wool suit to shrink. In 1971, Stanley Kubrick paid twisted homage to this musical rain sequence in the immortal “A Clockwork Orange.”

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TS June 30, 2009 at 8:14 am

Any list with Return of the Living Dead and Unforgiven is ok in my book! When it comes to rain, I always think of Suspiria, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (at the end, the cab/cat scene)and Psycho(prompts a visit to the Bates Motel)

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2 Alan Rapp June 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

Wonder Boys would definitely be on my list.
And one I always think of, for quantity not quality of rain, is Hard Rain with Christian Slater and Morgan Freeman.

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3 Kenny June 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

The end of Magnolia pops up in my mind, albeit it’s frogs instead of water. I also think of Seven when Pitt and Freeman are chasing Spacey in the streets. Scenes of Sin City come to mind as well. Great list.

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4 Kenny June 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

The end of Road to Perdition! Musn’t forget that one!

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5 ben June 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm

i’m a little surprised 9 1/2 weeks stairwell sex didn’t make the cut.

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6 Sean June 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Seven is a good one, that is a great chase scene. Psycho is a good one too.

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7 Eric Melin June 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I think a downpour of frogs should count, too! Great suggestions, everybody,. These are undoubtedly some of my fave scenes too. On facebook, I also got “Say Anything” and “High Fidelity.”

Mine would be John Goodman and William Forsythe spurting out of the muddy ground in “Raising Arizona” like newborn babies brought screaming into the world.

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8 Andie June 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

say anything will always make me list, that scene is one of the best in the movie

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9 James H. July 1, 2009 at 10:19 am

You have such a great list. I am not a fan of musicals at all but Singin’ in the Rain was such a great movie and wonderfully done that not even my distate for the genre could blind me to how wonderful that movie and that scene especially. However, I have to agree with Eric that John Cusack’s rain moments do deserve a little credit.

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10 Lupin 3 July 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Erm,

The Seven Samurai?

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11 cleavy July 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Great list, Sean, and well-written! I particularly like Return of the Living Dead, Back to the Future II, and The Two Towers – probably one of the best battle scenes I’ve ever seen!

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12 uma July 12, 2009 at 4:04 pm

i loved that rain scene in Garden State where they stand on the edge of the abyss and scream.

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13 Ryan July 12, 2009 at 11:03 pm

I was amazed how good this list was. Really enjoyed it. No “Hard Rain” mention, but thats probably for the best

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14 Demian July 14, 2009 at 11:02 am

There is a pretty cool fight scene during rain in the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf.

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15 Dan July 15, 2009 at 3:46 am

Ha, I think it’s only fair that John Cusack doesn’t make the list because if he were considered he would just dominate. There needs to be a separate top ten, just for him.

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16 Ray July 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm

How is the rooftop scene from the end of Bladerunner not in the list?

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17 Eric Melin July 20, 2009 at 9:19 am

Ray and Uma-
Nice calls. If I had written this, I’d have to add both of those! Thanks for bringing ‘em up!

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18 Tom Mahoney July 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

What about the final battle in Seven Samurai. That was a great rain scene. Black and white and rain, what a great combination.
Your #1 choice is spot on. They used to have to put milk in the rain to get it to show up on camera. Gene Kelly said the whole set smelled like spoiled milk.

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19 Kappeskopp July 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

No Ridley Scott? It rains in every one of his movies and he made some decent ones. In Alien there is even a rain scene on the Nostromo, sort of.

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20 Sam S. August 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

Oh wow, how could you not include Roy Batty’s final monologue in Blade Runner?

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21 Kari August 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

for all hte chick flicks out there, the NOTEBOOK!!!

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22 3324 September 4, 2009 at 11:11 am

The shoot out at the end of Public Enemy with James Cagney.

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23 Moses September 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

The rain scene from Garden State is a favorite for me, when Large climbs to the top of the crane and screams at the top of his lungs, followed by his friend, and culminating with that kiss, all underscored by Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York”.

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24 Eric Melin September 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

The Public Enemy, Blade Runner, Seven Samurai, and Garden State are all excellent choices; agreed!

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25 Loz October 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm

How about the V for Vendetta rain scene…I would have but that in there

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26 Saint Subversive April 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

You missed the rain sequence from “In Cold Blood”, where Robert Blake talks about his father while the rain falling down the window forms reflections on his face that resemble tears. This was blatantly copied in “That Was Then This Is Now” in the 80s with Emilio Estevez. The first battle scene in “Platoon” should be on the list. Many parts of William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer”, especially on the swinging rope bridge in the torrential rain forest deluge. Benjamin running through the rain in “The Graduate” to try and beat Mrs Robinson to the house in order to tell Elaine about their affair (that one could even be THE best). I know there are others Im overlooking. Sorry but for the most part, your list is WAYYYYY off.

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27 Marc February 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

You totally for got the great ‘Blade Runner’.

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28 Daniel F March 7, 2011 at 2:07 am

Some great rain movie scenes out there… but you guys really forgot one from one of my top three movies ever… The beginning scene of “Point Break” where Johnny Utah trains shooting those fake targets at the FBI training place. Rockn’ Rolllllllll!

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29 Karen August 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I see it’s been a while, but allow me to add a new movie with a simply delightful rain scene. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris ends with a lovely walk in the rain for Owen Wilson and the beautiful Lea Seydoux.

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30 Frederik May 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

Are you kidding me, the most beautiful rain scene is from ‘Road to Perdition’ and don’t forget ‘Blade Runner’, off course ‘Singing in the Rain’ is number one if not just for the charm alone.

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31 WadeKingston September 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Rashomon.

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